By Elizabeth Wong, Associate Director
Saturday, June 19 marks the 145th Anniversary of Juneteenth, a holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The celebration dates back to 1865, when Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and all who were enslaved were free. Today, Juneteenth, wherever it is celebrated, is defined by social gatherings, including barbeques and dances, and a focus on African-American history and self-development.
Although popular in the 19th century, Juneteenth celebrations declined in the early 20th century, especially during the Depression when the costs of such gathering were prohibitive. It was revived during the civil rights movement, however, as African Americans fought for equality and recognition in society. Since then many state governments, including Virginia, have recognized Juneteenth, and festivities celebrating not only emancipation, but also racial diversity can be found across the country.
In Virginia this year, several museums and communities are sponsoring Juneteenth celebrations. Some are exhibits and presentations about the end of slavery, while others feature live music and dance performances. Many offer food, drink and arts-and-crafts, as well. All are family-friendly affairs that encourage a respect for all cultures.
If you would like to celebrate the anniversary of emancipation, below is a list of some of the Juneteenth activities in Virginia.
List of Juneteenth Celebrations on Virginia’s Tourism site (statewide)
Roanoke, Montgomery County, Radford, Floyd County and Smithfield
Art 6 Gallery: http://www.art6.org/
Elegba Folklore Society: http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?id=459
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